Thursday, April 17, 2014

recommended gigs

Friday April 18 - Swank Bastards at the Double Down
Friday April 18 - the Psyatisc and Chop Tops at LV  Country Saloon

Saturday April 19 - Crimson Balladers and Wayne Hancock at the Dive Bar
Saturday April 19 - Swank Bastards at Rat City Ruckus
Saturday April 19 - the All Togethers and Curse Words are Verbs at the Pioneer Saloon

Wednesday April 23 - Jinxy Bear - Cheyenne Saloon

Thursday April 24 - Crazy Chief and Leather Lungs at Velveteen Rabbit - Roxie's birthday!

Friday April 25 - The Swamp Gospel at the Huntridge Tavern with Nina Coyote and Chico Tornado (from the Basque country)

Saturday April 26 - The Psyatics at the Double Down
Saturday April 26 - the Astaires at Triple Bs with David Haskins from Bauhaus
Saturday April 26 - Jinxy Bear - Downtown Beer Fest

Monday April 28 - the Astaires at the Beauty Bar

Wednesday April 30 - Swank Bastards at the Double Down
Wednesday April 30 - Jinxy Bear at Brooklyn Bowl

Sunday May 4 - Thee Swank Bastards at Artifice

Friday May 9 - Jinxy Bear with Prophet Greene and Fuzz Solow at the Hard Hat Lounge
Friday May 9 - the Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Saturday May 10 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Monday May 19 - the Astaires at the Beauty Bar

Tuesday May 20 - Wayne Hancock w/Eddie Bear & The Cubs and Whiskey Breath - Dive Bar

Wednesday May 21 - the Astaires, Laissez Fairs and Rosalyns at the Dive Bar
Wednesday May 21 - The Standells at the Cheyenne Saloon

Thursday May 22 - The Psyatics with Peter Murphy and the Dickies at LV Country Saloon

Saturday May 24 - the Loud Pipes at the Double Down

Wednesday May 28 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Friday May 30 - Jinxy Bear at the Hard Hat Lounge

Tuesday June 3 - Supersuckers at the Dive Bar!

Thursday June 5 - Nashville Pussy at the Dive Bar! with the Loud Pipes and Black Jetts

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

RIP Marty Thau


Marty Thau, Manager in Early New York Punk Scene, Dies at 75
 ---
I knew about him and Red Star, of course, but damn, he was involved with "96 Tears", "Yummy Yummy", the NY Dolls, Suicide, The Real Kids, The Fleshtones, Richard Hell and Blondie?! Wow!

Blind Boy Fuller - Get Your Yas Yas Out

Subtitled "22 great tracks from one of the most popular and influential country bluesmen of the 30's", this compilation has some terrific blues, ragtime and song stylings - both religious and bawdy & secular -  from
this man, who was previously unknown to me.

Fuller is a fine, though maybe not exceptional, guitarist, and he is augmented on the recordings by various players throughout, from the great Rev. Gary Davis, to Oh Red on washboard to Sonny Terry on harp. The song styles vary from fairly traditional blues, to jumpin' rag ("Rag Mam Rag") to the holy ("Precious Lord") to "party songs" like "I Want Some of Your Pie" and "Sweet Honey Hole". Some highlights include the blues "Boots and Shoes" and "Homesick and Lonesome" (that uses a variation of the "Dust My Broom" lick - Fuller was a contemporary of Robert Johnson's - wonder who had this first?), the ragtime of the title track (not unlike "Hot Tamales and Red Hots" and obviously where the Stones got their album title) and the oft-covered "Step It Up and Go", which this attributes to Fuller, though I'll bet this is yet another song of ambiguous origin.

Assuming that these songs are presented in chronological order, Fuller does improve throughout his all-too-short six year career and does some pretty fancy finger-pickin' by the time we get to "Jivin' Woman Blues", "Sweet Honey Hole". and "Jitterbug Rag". But, all of the tunes are high quality and tons of fun. One of the better finds that I've found lately!

Step It Up and Go! Tearing Up the Roots of Rock'n'Roll

I think when I ordered this 2-CD compilation, I was thinking that it would be more blues-based, but it is far more than that - yes, there are some blues tunes (Arthur Crudup, Big Joe Turner, Big Mam Thornton, etc.) but also lots of country, jump/be-bop and early doo-wop.

This mix of styles does make the set interesting, but it also is a bit disjointed as you bounce from style to style. Though it is undeniable that these all were part of the roots of rock'n'roll and it is the melding of this variety that gave us our most exciting American music.

Besides the previously mentioned artists, you get plenty of early country and some bluegrass with people like Bob Willis, the Delmore Brothers, Jimmie Revard, Hank Williams, Rose Maddox and more, while Bill Haley and the Comets crossed over with country and r'n'b tunes and they are well represented here with some of their own numbers as well as songs of theirs covered by others. Doo-wop makes appearances with the likes of the Moonglows, Du Dropper, the Ravens, among others and jump blues is spotlighted with Big Jim Wynn, Johnny Otis, Ruth Brown, etc. Along with all this, there are greats like Ray Charles, Louis Jordan and Louis Prima giving there own brands of music.

This is a nice set of 54 (!) tunes of diverse, pre-rock'n'roll music that gives a good history lesson while it entertains.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Tempest - American Repertory Theater productoion



I am far from a Shakespeare fan - or evenly overly knowledgeable about his works, other than his lines that have become part of the popular culture lexicon - but with magician Teller co-directing and Tom Waits' music providing the soundtrack, we were intrigued enough to check out the Tempest.

The story is typically Shakespeareianly (did I just make up that word - guess so) complicated and if you are not familiar with the play and haven't read the synopsis - and maybe even if you have - you will be mighty lost - especially considering that the backstory that gives you the basis for the tale takes place before the play starts! But, if you have the gist, it is enjoyable, especially with Teller's illusions and Tom Waits' songs - performed by an excellent live band that you can watch on a balcony above the musicians - dominating the program.

Waits' songs are more-or-less from his Rain Dogs-era and fit surprisingly well thematically as well as musically. The musicians and two female vocalists are dressed to impress and they are a joy to watch - some say they stole the show, even. Kudos especially to the percussionist(s) who managed to bring these rhythm-heavy songs to life, without overpowering the actors.

The acting and the costuming are all well-done, also, and it is all put together in a 510 seat "tent" (that feels more intimate than that) outside the Smith Center - albeit, an air-conditioned, sturdy-walled tents that could handle the Las Vegas winds and keep the clientele comfortable - although there was some noise leakage as nearby trains passed or helicopters flew by.

Overall, highly enjoyable and recommended for those who dig magic and Tom Waits - and who doesn't?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs and Cheetah Chrome at the Dive Bar, Las Vegas, April 10, 2014

Our old friends the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs have reunited (with LA legend Bruce Duff sitting in for Art Jackson, who has retired from r'n'r) and for their first tour they have joined forces with ex-Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome for their "Two Headed Cheetahs" attack of the west coast. Las Vegas was lucky enough to have them appear at our own Dive Bar, though due to having four bands (!) opening and a late start, the night ran so long that many could not handle the marathon and left before the rock had ended. I know that Vegas is a 24 hour town, but most people cannot stay out until 3:30 in the morning on a weeknight. OK, sorry for the rant - on to the rock!

This version of the SWC's has lead singer/lead guitarist Frank Meyer joined by original bassist Dino Everett, powerfully metronomic drummer Mike Sessa and the afore-mentioned Bruce Duff. The rhythm section is fast, tight and loud as Frank and Bruce trade licks (both are superb guitarists) on classic Cheetahs' numbers like "Waiting For the Death of My Generation", the new-wavey "Automatic", the poppy "Miss Teen USA", "Kick Me Down", the ode to Detroit "Motor City Rock'n'Roll", "Darla", "Freak Out Man" and their new single "Escape From New York".

"Built For Speed" was always a wild jam number that often included Stooges-esque sax wailin' so tonight local sax-man Gene Howley joined the crew for this audience-invasion craziness that melded into a version of "Funhouse" with Cheetah Chrome joining in on the action. The entire set was high energy punk'n'roll with manic stage presence throughout. Great time seeing these gents back in the r'n'r saddle!

After the SWC's, Mr. Cheetah Chrome took front'n'center stage for a a solo set (with Frank, Bruce - on bass - and Mike backing him) that relied on about half new songs and half Dead Boys tunes. There was a cool, rockin' instrumental opener with some twin guitar work and then several new songs that tended to be more mid-tempo, almost pop songs. Chrome's voice is a bit raw and seemed somewhat hoarse this evening, but his guitar playing was pretty exceptional during the whole set. Of course, the Dead Boys' tunes are what got the remaining audience movin', with songs like "What Love Is", "Ain't Nothing to Do", a spot-on "Son of Sam" and, of course, a stellar "Sonic Reducer" - a pleasure seeing the original man taking those much-covered leads! The band was smokin' behind him and Bruce's bass playing is always top-notch and he locked in with Sessa as well as Dino did.

A couple of high-profile and amazingly rockin' acts for the Dive Bar - just wish it could have been a bit earlier so that more people could have made it out. Regardless, a great night of punk'n'roll!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

recommended gigs

Thursday April 10 - the Swamp Gospel with Cheetah Chrome and the Street Walkin' Cheetahs - the Dive Bar

Saturday April 12 - Jon Spencer with the Lucky Cheats - Beauty Bar

Monday April 14 - the Astaires at the Double Down

Friday April 18 - Swank Bastards at the Double Down
Friday April 18 - the Psyatisc and Chop Tops at LV  Country Saloon

Saturday April 19 - Crimson Balladers and Wayne Hancock at the Dive Bar
Saturday April 19 - Swank Bastards at Rat City Ruckus
Saturday April 19 - the All Togethers and Curse Words are Verbs at the Pioneer Saloon

Thursday April 24 - Crazy Chief and Leather Lungs at Velveteen Rabbit - Roxie's birthday!

Friday April 25 - The Swamp Gospel at the Huntridge Tavern with Nina Coyote and Chico Tornado (from the Basque country)

Saturday April 26 - The Psyatics at the Double Down
Saturday April 26 - the Astaires at Triple Bs with David Haskins from Bauhaus

Monday April 28 - the Astaires at the Beauty Bar

Wednesday April 30 - Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Sunday May 4 - Thee Swank Bastards at Artifice

Friday May 9 - the Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Saturday May 10 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Monday May 19 - the Astaires at the Beauty Bar

Tuesday May 20 - Wayne Hancock w/Eddie Bear & The Cubs and Whiskey Breath - Dive Bar

Wednesday May 21 - the Astaires, Laissez Fairs and Rosalyns at the Dive Bar
Wednesday May 21 - The Standells at the Cheyenne Saloon

Thursday May 22 - The Psyatics with Peter Murphy and the Dickies at LV Country Saloon

Saturday May 24 - the Loud Pipes at the Double Down

Wednesday May 28 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Tuesday June 3 - Supersuckers at the Dive Bar!

Thursday June 5 - Nashville Pussy at the Dive Bar! with the Loud Pipes and Black Jetts

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

The Smell of Death - Bruce Duff

I should preface this review by saying that I've known Bruce for decades now and was even invited to his
wedding to the lovely Else, who was responsible for this book seeing the light of day. So, considering that we've shared innumerable stages over the years, this review might not be as objective as some. And consider that I know many of the characters herein and that I've played with Jeff Dahl (the man whose tour is chronicled in the book), as well. So, to me, this highly enjoyable book read like an old friend sharing road stories - which, essentially, it is.

Opening with a tale of playing a gig in San Francisco with the legendary GG Allin (I never knew before this where the Jeff Dahl album title Vomit Wet Kiss came from), Bruce uses the chaos, anarchy and wretched stink of that show as an analogy for life on the road. The bulk of the book is based on a Jeff Dahl tour of Europe in the early 90's (amazing to me that there is 90's nostalgia already) that included Bruce on bass, Ratboy (of LA glam rockers Motorcycle Boy) on guitar and Jeff Zimmitti (the Ultras) on drums and he does give a good representation of the touring life at this level. The poor accommodations, the cold (there are never summer tours of Europe – you only go while school is in session), the weird venues, the boredom, the frustrations, the flaring tempers, the lack of females (this seems exaggerated in the book – maybe my bands had more gender crossover), the tales of girlfriends back home having plenty of fun (and you wonder what else) without you, the general stir-craziness and doing things - like dancing all night long and making a general fool of yourself in public - that you'd never do at home because you're pretty damn sure that you'll never see any of these people again. Throughout the journey, there are plenty of memorable characters, from crazed fans, to small-town Satanists, to promoters like the legendary Kike from the Pleasure Fuckers, a totally insane but sweet man, who has since passed away.

I knew that this was the tour that my band, the Tommyknockers, met up with the Jeff Dahl Band on the night that we arrived in Germany and Bruce does give us a brief mention – mostly about making out with my bassist, Laura, though nothing more comes of it. Someday I’ll have to review my diary of this tour, as I'm sure there were some interesting events this night that Bruce was not aware of…

Without giving too much away, our heroes survive the tour and the story ends with familiar tales of broken friendships and relationships (I can't count the number of couples that have broken up after one goes on tour - for all kinds of reasons, not simply infidelity), but with some coming out stronger and wiser.

Any touring musician will easily relate to this book, as most have lived it, though I'm not sure what "civilians" will make of it all. But Bruce tells his story with wit, humor, and a highly personable style. If you're interested in discovering the "glamorous" life of a relatively small-time touring rock'n'roller, this is it. For me, this truly was one of those books that you can't put down.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Iggy Pop & James Williamson - Kill City

Originally recorded in 1975, these tapes were done in the hopes of getting Pop a new contract after the dissolution of the Stooges in a haze of drugs, bad management and assorted other r'n'r tragedies. In fact, rumor has it that the Igster recorded his vocals during leaves from the institution he was in for his heroin addiction. After The Idiot and Lust For Life garnered some attention, Bomp Records finally released this in 1977, gaining some serious traction as, while this was watered down compared to the Stooges, it was far more rockin' than those David Bowie-produced records.

The opener, "Kill City", is a true classic tale of the travails of drug addiction in Los Angeles. As I said, this is considerably cleaner than anything from the Stooges, but still highly rockin' and is the debut of the Sales Brothers (Tony and Hunt) rhythm section work with Iggy, along with Scott Thurston's keyboard's, which had otherwise only been heard on Metallic KO. There are a number of slower numbers here, as well, presumably to show record companies Pop's dexterity, such as the sax-driven ballad "Sell Your Love", which he sings in almost a stage whisper, as opposed to his more familiar animalistic bellowing. "Beyond the Law" is similar in feel to "Kill City", though the guitar is a bit buried under the sax and keys - still, a good r'n'r number. Another ballad appears in "I Got Nothin'", with some melodic guitar work from Williamson, but there's more edge and bit in "Johanna", which has since appeared in a rawer form on other compilations and while the sax somewhat dominates, James does get a good solo here, as well. This dissolves into the soundtrack-ish "Night Theme" which both closed side one of the vinyl record and opened side two.

There's a bit of synthesizer noise and then we get the upbeat "Consolation Prizes", with some cool slide guitar and licks galore before another ballad, "No Sense of Crime", this one with plenty of bongo-percussion. I think I had sorta forgotten how many slow songs there are on this record, as "Lucky Monkeys" is pretty mellow, as well and "Master Charges" kinda takes a refrain from "Night Theme" and closes out the proceedings.

Certainly not his best work, but this is still pretty cool stuff and stronger than much of Ig's solo stuff. Well worth getting. I understand there is a new, re-mixed version (and that the original CDs were recorded off of inferior vinyl) but I haven't heard that yet. Regardless, well worthwhile.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Creedence Country

This compilation was originally released in 1981 in the hopes of infiltrating the country market after a producer commented on the C&W influences of some of Fogerty's work and apparently it succeeded as in
1982 "Cotton Fields" did hit #50 in the Billboard country charts.

Opening with one of their most country influenced numbers, "Lookin' For a Reason", we see that Fogerty wasn't just mining New Orleans' hoodoo for his material, as this is fully as country-fied as anything from the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo - complete with prominent steel guitar. "Don't Look Now" is a bouncin' country number, though a bit more of a fusion, as it has an obvious CCR feel, as well. The fantastically depressing tale of a roving musician, "Lodi", is an excellent example of how genres can be mixed for an original sound. They tackle rockabilly in the fairly traditional takes on "My Baby Left Me", "Hello Mary Lou"  and Roy Orbison's "Ooby Dooby", while "Ramble Tamble" is a high-energy Creedence stomper that slows down for a groovy Fogerty breakdown/jam, similar in feel to their "Walk on the Water", which then again turns into a high speed rockabilly romp. The afore-mentioned "Cotton Fields" (the Leadbelly tune) is also reasonably traditional take (with some terrific harmonies), considering that a r'n'r band is playing it. I don't know that I would normally classify Bo Diddley's "Before You Accuse Me" as country (it's certainly more blues/r'n'r), though lines were blurring at the time that it was written. Nor would I pigeon-hole the nice ballad "Wrote a Song for Everyone" or the mid-tempo "Cross Tie Walker", though the elements are there, although "Looking Out My Back Door" is pretty darn hillbilly-esque.

For the CD release, three more tracks were added, the ballady "Need Someone to Hold", more upbeat country stylings in "Tearin' Up the Country" and an organ-based slower, melodic number in "It's Just a Thought".

Nice idea for a comp and, naturally, there is some pretty stellar material here. Good times, though I would always recommend their standard releases.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Unwieldies with the All Togethers at Velveteen Rabbit, Thursday April 3, 2014

I've written about the Unwieldies so many times now that I'm starting to run out of adjectives for them (or maybe I did a long time ago - I never said I was a writer!) but once again, their talent and terrific songs won over the crowd at this relatively new downtown bar. Danielle's voice always impresses and blends well with Rob's vocals and moving bass lines, while Jack's violin (don't call it a fiddle! :) ) keeps it classy! Of course, a good part of the set came from their CD, though these tunes were augmented by their take on Tom Waits' "Chocolate Jesus" and relatively new numbers "Wouldn't That Be Love" and "First To Tell You I Told You So". This was a good setting for their acoustic groove and they didn't disappoint.


Another combo that I have ranted'n'raved about innumerably is the terrific All Togethers and this show was the first I have seen since the addition of cellist Brenna, who also adds vocals, giving the group some lovely 4 part harmonies. Unfortunately, the cello was a bit muted through most of the set, though it did really stand out in their moody original "When the Night Comes' and on their closing cover of - believe it or not - "Baba O'Reilly". I also appreciated the choreographed cello/stand-up bass twirls in "Freight Train"! Always an overabundance of talent and a barrel of good times and you have no excuse for not seeing and appreciating them, as they play everywhere, all the time - they are probably performing mere feet from you as you read this!


The Velveteen Rabbit is a hip, comfortable bar with lots of lounging/seating areas and a nice little corner for bands to play. I do wish that they would have shows on more than just Thursday nights, though. Hopefully, as the weather warms up, this place will heat up, as well!